the gamekeeper freehouse
History of The Gamekeeper
Welcome to The Gamekeeper, a fine old pub facing the pasture and ponds od Old Buckenham's impressive Church Green. The Gamekeeper may not be as ancient as the two castles and a priory which the village once had, nor is it as old as All Saint's Church with its thatched roof and unusual octagonal tower; this pub does date back to the reign of Charles I though, and its story can be summarised as follows.
At some time between 1626 and 1639, the Rev. Robert Underwood acquired a one acre site from the Lord of the manor of Buckenham Lathes Insoken, Sir Philip Knevet, the first Baronet. On this site Underwood built a house which survives to this day in a somewhat extended form as the Gamekeeper. This bar, with its tastefully restored hearth and fine timbers, formed the hall of the house - or living room, as we would call it nowadays. To the far side of the hearth was a parlour, while the bedrooms above were initially open to the rafters. The roof would have been thatched, perhaps with reed from the Old Buckenham fen.
From 1630 to 1634, Robert Underwood's twin brother Anthony was the curate of Old Buckenham. in the circumstances, it may have been the case that the former (probably the elder twin) built this house for his brothers use. Robert himself became rector of Chevington near Bury St. Edmunds in 1630, a living he held until his death in 1690.
The Underwoods connection with this house had been severed by 13th September 1639, when Simon Badcock, Robert's successor as its owner, was buried in All Saint's churchyard. Badcock's heirs owned the property until 1686; then , after a period in which it was in the possession of one Titus Awbrey, came the date which would appear to mark its first use as an inn.
On 11th October 1716, Edward Phillips, beer brewer of Old Buckenham, and his wife Mary acquired this house. The present dining room dates from the early 18th Century, an extension probably added by Phillips to house his brewing operations. In those days, incidentally, most rural pubs brewed their own ale.
In 1728 the Phillips sold this property to Richard Waynforth of Roydon by Diss, another brewer. The next owner, from 1734 to 1747, John Ollet, was described as a collar maker of Old Buckenham: it is, however, likely that he continued to operate this house as a pub. The pub was known as the White Horse from 1791 until 1999 when, following a major renovation, the proprietors changes the name to the Gamekeeper.